Professor Sian Sullivan and the Future Pasts AHRC Project invited to blog about their research on the AHRC Heritage Priority Area Platform

The large AHRC Care for the Future research project Future Pasts: Sustainabilities and Cultural Landscapes in West Namibia , led by Professor Sian Sullivan, has been invited to provide the latest blog on the prestigious  AHRC Heritage Priority Area webite.

The post, which outlines the Future Pasts project, including the international team, research aims, and outputs, begins thus;

“The contemporary global environmental moment is saturated with reports of crisis and loss. Apocalytic fears abound, as the accelerating ecological alterations of the Anthropocene move us beyond known collective human experience.

This apparent rush towards eco-catastrophe, however, is also a vibrant ecocultural milieu, populated with creative responses and diverse sustainability solutions. Dominant neoliberal ‘sustainable development’ formulations, given new impetus as the ‘Green Economy’, embrace the modern linear time of progress to propose sustainability modernisations built on current economic structures. Apparent rapprochements between economic growth trajectories and perceived environmental crisis, however, can disempower indigenous modes of response by wrapping local and immanent experience into global and transcendent futures.

Against this background, Future Pasts investigates how diverse ideas and assumptions about the past affect the futures being created now in pursuit of ‘sustainability’. Combining disciplinary approaches from social anthropology, environmental ethics, cultural geography, ethnomusicology and environmental history, the project explores tensions between traditional, indigenous and local conceptions of human/nature relationships, on the one hand, and new conceptions underlying modern market-based methods for creating ‘green’ futures, on the other. Future Pasts has a particular geographical focus on west Namibia (southern Africa), where three of our research team have field experience stretching back into the 1990s. The project seeks to:

  • enhance understanding of sociocultural, economic and environmental changes in historical and post-independence contexts;
  • document and promote cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge regarding the historical cultural landscapes of west Namibia;
  • extend analysis and understanding of the historical ecologies of the Namib;
  • understand the interpretation of sustainability in the context of generating a growth-oriented ‘green economy’; and
  • foster public discussion of environmental change and sustainability perceptions and concerns.”

The full post can be seen here 

Sian Sullivan is Professor of Environment and Culture at Bath Spa University

Dr Mike Hannis , Senior Lecturer in Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University, is also a member of the Future Pasts team.

Both are members of the Bath Spa University Research Centre for the Environmental Humanities 

For any inquiries, please follow the links on the Future Pasts contact page 

About the AHRC Heritage Priority Area webite

“The AHRC Heritage Priority Area team – led by Heritage Leadership Fellow Professor Rodney Harrison, and based at the UCL Institute of Archaeology – works with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC),  the heritage research community, and heritage partner organisations, to draw together and stimulate the development of a wide range of research across the arts and humanities that makes an important contribution to understanding heritage. We also aim to support the interconnections between research, policy and practice, both in the UK and internationally.

We take on an expansive view of heritage, and aim to encourage and stimulate work that highlights intersections between natural and cultural heritage, and key global challenges.

​We are currently working with AHRC to develop a programme of events and activities which will help us to address these aims. We have our own specific set of research themes which we aim to engage as part of our research and leadership activities.

Further information about the AHRC’s investments in heritage research, and its Heritage Priority Area Future Research Strategy, is available on the AHRC’s website.”  Source here

Author: Owain Jones

I work at Bath Spa University as a Professor of Environmental Humanities, and I am Director of the University's Environmental Humanities Research Centre

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